Congratulations, hooray and woohoo – you’re pregnant! Now what?
In those rare moments when you’re not jumping with joy or completely freaking out, you may wonder, now what?
To help simplify this new chapter, I’ve jotted down a few things that I’ve learnt or which have been passed onto me in the early months of parenthood.
Am I an expert? Nope. Could this end up being a 400-page list? Absolutely! But I hope these few things somewhat help.
BEFORE BABY ARRIVES:
Go on dates
Spend time as a couple before baby arrives. Taking this time strengthens your relationship and enables you to create special memories before baby arrives.
This is good for your mental health and for relaxing your body.
Sleep & rest when you can
Your body is about to go through a lot. You need all the rest you can get as it makes this beautiful baby of yours. So listen to your body while pregnant and when you're tired, don’t feel bad about taking a rest.
This applies to once bub arrives too! If you feel weird pains, wondering if you can eat something or something is happening with the baby, don’t Google! You see some pretty scary stuff that is not truthful and can inject fear where there doesn’t need to be.
You will, of course, need to Google some things, but try and limit this to baby products and services.
My mum always said a baby doesn’t come with a user manual, but there is an App for that! Just some of the Apps I have found useful are:
The Wonder Weeks: Helps track your baby’s development and gives you an amazing run down.
Baby Shusher: White noise for when you need it on the go.
Feed Safe: Lets you know when it's safe to breastfeed after alcohol and coffee.
Baby Karaoke: Helped me learn the words to nursery rhymes and keeps baby distracted.
Mush: Helps connect you to other mums in your area.
Fitness and health
As much as you will feel tired, try and do some light exercise each week as this will help your body and mind. Fuel your body with good foods and vitamins, as while your baby grows they will take your supply. Seek advice from your obstetrician and or GP regarding this as they are the experts.
Read online reviews, ask friends/family who have children themselves, and try to test products you think you may like.
Stalk the baby sales
Baby stuff is expensive so look out for sales.
Car seat vs capsule
A car seat 0–4 years can be a great option as babies can grow out of the capsule very quickly (no need to waste money for a few weeks/months use). A capsule is a great option if you don't want to disturb baby getting in and out of the car. Alternatively, you can hire car seats and capsules.
Do your research on what pram brands meet your requirements. Do you need something small and light, easy to manoeuvre and in a specific colour? Do you need it a little bigger with room to add another seat for an older child? Are you having twins? Do you have a specific budget? Write a list of your must-haves and visit a baby store or online store to find out which ones meet your needs. Read Baby Stroller Recommendations
This is something a lot of new parents don’t think they’ll need. However, it can come in handy when your new bundle of joy is fussy and doesn’t want to be put down, if they're going through a wonder week or sleep regression, or if you don’t want to take the pram. Try to get a carrier that has a waistband so that your baby's weight isn’t being carried on your upper back. Again, you can hire these or pick them up second hand if you’d prefer.
It’s fantastic! Put it on whenever the baby is settling for sleep as it helps block out other sounds and cuts through their crying. It also mimics the sounds of the womb. It was noisy in there so to expect a baby to sleep in silence goes against what they are used to.
Swaddles or swaddling your baby with a cloth wrap will make your baby feel secure and help elevate their startle reflex. There are so many ready-made swaddles (that turn into sleeping bags when the baby is older), otherwise get the midwife to show you in the hospital how to swaddle bubs with their arms down.
Saline nose spray
Have this on hand for colds or when bub is first born. Some babies have small nasal passages so this helps get stuff out his nose early on.
Nipple Gel pads
If you are breastfeeding, your boobs will get sore. All part of the fun 😳. The best gel pads are Multi-Mam and they will save your life! Make sure you pack them for the hospital. Hot tip: put them in the fridge as the cold gel will feel ah-ma-zing on those sore, cracked nipples.
AFTER BABY ARRIVES:
You may feel like you can do it all, but family and friends DO want to help and it will take the stress off your shoulders to accept. Every little bit helps ease the transition into parenthood.
Asking for help
This doesn’t make you a bad mum or partner. The first few months can be hard to adjust to and it’s when your baby needs you the most. Rather than stress, just reach out to those in reach.
Rest when you can
This helps your body heal. This is one area a lot of new mums don’t think about and you may be surprised at how tired, sore and emotional you may be. Resting will help the healing process and you’ll be stronger for it. The house cleaning can wait, your health is the most important.
Get out of the house as much as you can straight away
This can really help with your confidence, and also with your mental health. If you don’t think you can do it alone then ask someone to come with you.
Allow yourself to cry
Lots of things have changed; you have hormones pumping through your body and breastfeeding can hurt at first. It will feel good to cry so just let it out. Around the time your milk comes in. you may feel a bit down, but just communicate to those close to you and you will get through it. If you are feeling blue for more than a week, please have a chat with those close to you.
Saying no to visitors
You decide what is best for you as a family and don’t feel bad if you need to say no. The first few days/ weeks are wonderful and emotional and you can take your time letting others get to know your new addition. Read Visitors After The Birth
Around this time, the hormones in your body start to settle and the adrenaline from birth is wearing off. Again, you will notice a change in your emotions – all perfectly natural. Listen to your body. If you are finding that after a few days/weeks you still feel low, make sure you talk to someone about it.
Oh, the delightful and all so important pelvic floor. It’s an extremely important muscle in your body and one that can be trained to function the way it should. It doesn’t have to feel like the run to the toilet is the amazing race – will you make it?! Just as you get a postnatal check-up with your Obstetrician, it’s a huge recommendation to get a postnatal check-up with a physiotherapist who can give you the right exercises to have your pelvic floor performing how it should!
Self-care and ‘me’ time
With this new chapter in life and all the change, it’s very easy to lose yourself along the way. Taking some time out for you to have some ‘me’ time allows you to relax, regroup, unwind and do something that makes your heart happy. Read Self-Care and Other Lies
It can be as simple as going into another room with a cup of tea and asking for 30 mins alone. Or it could be that you take the time each week to do some exercise. Whatever it is, ask your partner, family or friends for help so you set aside that time for you. It doesn’t make you a bad mum – in fact, it makes you a stronger one which then makes you a better partner, daughter and friend. You are so important so please don’t forget this along the way!
This is a new job
Remember when you started your first new job and how many mistakes you made at first? Well, think of this new chapter as a new job. Some days you’ll ace it and others you won’t. Remember you are new at this so cut yourself some slack. You and your baby can learn together.
Enjoy it all
It’s the cliché comment, ‘they’re not little for long’ and it’s true! Cuddle your babies when you can and enjoy the crazy.
So again, congratulations! Enjoy the ups and downs and always remember you are doing a fantastic job.